In 2023, the fintech industry in the Philippines is expected to continue its steady rise, supported by the increasing adoption of digital financial services, favorable regulatory environment, and government efforts to improve financial access.
Cryptocurrencies are also gaining traction, with a penetration rate of about 15%. Investors are showing their confidence in the growth prospects of the Philippine fintech industry, with approximately US$344 million in funding poured into the sector in 2022, making it the third biggest recipient of fintech funding across the region.
To highlight the country’s emerging fintech leaders, we have selected five startups that have experienced significant growth in the past year and are poised for greater success in 2023.
These companies have already secured notable funding and have developed substantial user bases, with plans to expand their offerings, grow their teams, or expand overseas. We focused on companies in pre-Series A, Series A, and Series B stages.
Tonik is a notable digital bank in the Philippines, having launched in 2021 as the country’s first independent all-digital bank with its own bank license issued by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP). Tonik offers a range of consumer products, including deposits, payments, debit cards, and loans.
Since its launch, Tonik has experienced impressive growth, with consumer deposits reaching US$20 million and US$100 million within the first and eighth months of operation, respectively. This success has made Tonik one of the fastest-growing neobanks globally.
In February 2022, Tonik’s holding company, Tonik Financial, closed a US$131 million round of Series B equity funding, and later that year, it acquired the Philippine business of Tendo Payment Solutions (TendoPay).
Tonik’s focus now is to launch a variety of digital consumer lending products to enhance financial inclusion in the country and to expand the value proposition of its Tonik Account offering.
BillEase is an on-demand consumer credit app launched in 2017. The platform offers various financial products such as personal loans, e-wallet top-ups, prepaid load, gaming credits, and BNPL, which allows customers to pay for their purchases online and offline in interest-free or interest-bearing installment plans.
One of BillEase’s main differentiators from other BNPL services in the Philippines is that it enables customers to build formal credit records. The company claims to have more than 2,000 partners and has disbursed over three million in loans to date.
BillEase is the flagship product of First Digital Finance Corporation, a fintech company. In January 2022, the company announced an $11 million Series B funding, bringing its total equity raised to about US$15 million. Later in September 2022, the company secured a US$20 million debt facility, which it plans to use for customer acquisition, developing new products, and hiring. BillEase reported that the volume of transactions on its platform nearly quintupled in the first half of 2022 compared to the same period in 2021.
PDAX: The Philippines’ Leading Cryptocurrency Exchange to Watch in 2023
PDAX, or the Philippine Digital Asset Exchange, is a leading order-book exchange for trading cryptocurrencies and digital assets such as bitcoin and ether. Founded in 2018, PDAX received its license from the central bank and has since partnered with over 30 cash-in and cash-out channels, including Unionbank, PNB, and Instapay. The platform has more than 30 cryptocurrencies available for trade through its mobile app, and customers can upgrade their accounts to access a total of 70 cryptocurrencies, including exclusive and OTC tokens.
PDAX has achieved significant growth in its user base, claiming to have reached 800,000 users at the end of 2022. The exchange aims to continue improving its products and services to increase crypto awareness in the country.
In February 2022, PDAX raised over US$50 million in a Series B funding round led by Tiger Global, bringing its total funding to about US$63 million. The company plans to use the proceeds to cater to the growing non-fungible token (NFT) and play-to-earn markets in the Philippines and improve customer experience.
Lista is a financial management app that was launched in late 2021. The platform offers solutions for both individuals and merchants to track the flow of money, record debts, and collect receivables using its built-in SMS notification feature. Additionally, it provides purpose-driven solutions for personal and business finance, such as sales targets, inventory tracking, and savings. One of the unique features of Lista is a savings challenge that encourages users to be more financially savvy.
The app has gained significant traction with 1.4 million downloads throughout the country due to its ease of use and localized solutions that function even without an internet connection. In June 2022, Lista secured a US$5.1 million Series A funding round to accelerate the expansion of its services and develop more products and features.
UNO Digital Bank
UNO Digital Bank is a fully licensed digital bank that was launched in 2022. With one mobile app and one card, UNO Digital Bank provides customers with the ability to save, borrow, transact, invest, and protect their finances with ease. The company offers various products, including savings and time deposit accounts, a numberless payment card, and a virtual debit Mastercard.
UNOAsia, a Singapore-based fintech company and one of the primary incorporators of UNO Digital Bank, raised US$11 million in a pre-Series A funding round in August 2022, bringing the company’s total funding to US$44.5 million. UNOAsia’s plans for the next two to five years involve expanding digital banking services to several key markets across South and Southeast Asia. In the short term, the company plans to introduce lending, insurance, and cryptocurrency products to the Philippine market.